Saskatchewan Burlesque Controversy
July 23, 2015
Saskatchewan’s Premier, Brad Wall, recently announced that burlesque shows would be allowed in Saskatchewan on a limited basis – that being if monies raised were to go to charities. According to reports, the province had put an end to stripping events in Saskatchewan based on concerns that these activities contribute to human trafficking and sexual exploitation. On April 16, the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority released the following statement on its website:
Regulations that prohibit striptease entertainment as a regular activity in liquor licensed establishments are now in effect.
Striptease entertainment will now be allowed to occur in limited special use facilities – theatres/concert halls, casinos and exhibition facilities. Communities without these types of special use facilities may hold events at an approved venue, under a Special Occasion Permit.
Events can only occur once annually per establishment and must be in support of a charitable/community cause. Full nudity will continue to be prohibited.
“We know in the past that there have been some performances that have served as fundraising events for very worthy causes,” Minister responsible for SLGA Don McMorris said. “In drafting these regulations, we wanted to take a common sense approach that would allow these types of events to continue to occur, but on a very limited basis and not as the main focus of a business.”
Correspondence regarding these changes will be sent to all of the province’s 1,900 commercial liquor permit holders in the coming days.
If the Saskatchewan government is concerned that burlesque shows and businesses contribute to sexual exploitation, human trafficking or other harmful activities in society, it seems inconsistent at best to suggest that a limited implementation of these activities is acceptable so long as there are benefits to charitable organizations.
Opponents to burlesque shows have been reported to include religious groups. Religious groups are often charities.
CFI Canada is interested to learn more about the relationship between burlesque shows, exotic dancers and whether these businesses (which operate under licencing and regulation in a wide variety of jurisdictions around the world) are connected to organized crime, contribute to harms in society or have harmful effects. We have questions and, as an organization which advocates for the policy and regulation based on evidence, will begin to collect expert advice and opinion:
1. Do burlesque shows, strip clubs and related activities have:
- direct or indirect connections to organized crime
- direct or indirect connections to human trafficking
- direct or indirect connections to child sexual abuse and/or exploitations
- direct or indirect connections to sexual exploitation of vulnerable people or groups
2. What is the experience of regulators and police forces regarding these businesses?
3. Does regulation of these activities have a net-positive or net-negative impact on areas of potential harm and/or crime in any given jurisdiction or community?
4. What organizations or group specifically advocate for or against these activities and what is the basis of their support or opposition?
CFI Canada does not currently have a position on these activities or the relevant legislation in Saskatchewan or elsewhere. However we do advocate for policy to be based on verifiable evidence and with an objective to promote benefits and reduce harms in society. Individuals, organizations and governments should be encouraged to use reason, facts and evidence to guide decisions – and to act consistently with the evidence to advance human rights and freedoms.
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